Dr. William Ray Jones (lovingly known as Billy Ray, Bill, Dr. Bill, Dr. Jones, or Doc), 79, passed peacefully at his home in Port Gibson, Mississippi on July 19th, surrounded by his loved ones. A memorial of Bill’s life will be held on Saturday, July 24th at 11:00am at Port Gibson Methodist Church.
Bill was born in Florence, Mississippi, on August 21, 1941 to Raymond and Tyna Jones. He grew up in Port Gibson, where his parents ran the “Five and Dime” store downtown. Bill was the second of four children. Upon Port Gibson High School graduation, Bill entered the Navy (1959-1962) and was stationed in Sanford, FL where he met his future wife Janice Westmark.
Bill began his educational journey with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1967 from Mississippi State University. He continued his love of learning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute where he obtained a Master’s Degree and a Doctorate Degree in Meat Science. During this time, Bill and Jan began their family with the births of their children, David Ray and Amy Lynn.
Dr. Bill Jones started his teaching journey at Pennsylvania State University; however, he spent the majority of his career as an educator at Auburn University beginning in 1975. He is credited for building one of the most successful and widely recognized 4-H programs in the country. The awards and recognitions Bill earned throughout his career are too numerous to name. His third child, Angela, was born while the family resided in Auburn.
In 2018, Bill was given the Mentor Recognition Award by the American Meat and Science Association. On his plaque is engraved,
“A true mentor in the field of meat and animal sciences, Bill’s personal and professional contributions touched untold lives as a coach, advisor, teacher, leader, and friend. His devotion, compassion, enthusiasm, and dedication are the hallmark characteristics of a man, loved and admired by many, who nurtured the success of others in industry and in life.”
In addition to his career accomplishments, perhaps his greatest life’s work was that of a Father. He was the Dad who was always present, always approachable, and always had the right words of comfort or redirection when it was needed. He was extremely proud of his children and their accomplishments and stood behind them no matter what they chose to do.
Bill loved the outdoors and instilled that same appreciation for nature in his children. He appreciated the simple things in life. He loved nothing more than for his family to be together and to be happy. He was the Dad who was there at the ball games, the music and dance recitals, in the fishing boats, the deer stands, and the outdoor grill, where for three dollars and fifty cents, he could create a meal fit for kings.
Bill is survived by his wife Jan and his children, David Ray Jones (Cheri), Amy Lynn Jones (Lee Drake), and Angela Jones Kennedy (Mark), and his precious granddaughter, Saylor. He is also survived by his siblings, Richard Jones (Joan), Jerry Jones (Lisa), and Linda Marsalis, and numerous nieces and nephews, who Bill loved as his own children. Bill is also survived by his beloved pup, Belle, that has been a constant companion for fourteen years on the farm.
Bill was a man everyone loved to love. It was a privilege and an honor to know and share our lives with him.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the mentor recognition fund through AMSA set up in Dr William R Jones’ name:
AMSA Development Council
302 S. Platte Clay Way, Suite 107
Kearney, MO 64060
(Please indicate the fund designation on your gift)
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